There is no vengeance like an editorialist’s

Thank you for reprinting the editorial from the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram regarding the Schaffhausen criminal trial. To me this was a tough call.

Both prosecution and defense attorneys agreed that Aaron Schaffhausen was suffering from mental illness when he killed his children. The question was should he get treatment for the disease and perhaps re-enter society at some point in the distant future, or be locked up and the key be thrown away.

The editorial mentions a third option that was not given to the jurors — the death sentence. It decries the cost of keeping the “coward” in jail and laments the fact that the death penalty was not an option. Now, I find “coward” to be an unusual word to describe a person with mental illness, but I digress.

I want to thank you for giving certainty to a case that to me had unanswered questions. I agree now that we should kill him today. After all, two out of three mental-health professionals say he is only a little bit crazy, so why should we allow him to live?

Electrocution, hanging, firing squad … or stone him to death. Why wait? Why take into account the fact that the 12 jurors are not perfect and may have made a mistake? He has been condemned. That is good enough for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, and so it is good enough for me.

Dan Solarz, Minneapolis

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Words of reason are too often misconstrued

Many times I said that I was not happy about being in a war with the innocent people of Iraq. They were not responsible for 9/11.

What did Republicans hear? I don’t support the troops.

I am not happy about all of the oil pipelines running through our country — mainly because the oil is only going through our country to the refineries — and on to exportation. We have seen many times that when oil companies tell us there is no threat to the environment — only a fool would believe them.

What do Republicans hear? I must like paying a lot for oil and gas since all of the oil moving through our country is going to stay in our country.

I would like to see that guns are kept out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

What do Republicans hear? That we want to list every gun that is in your closet — and then take it away from you.

I think that if two people love each other, they should be allowed to marry and have all of the rights guaranteed by law to all married people.

What do Republicans hear? That somehow the whole of society and traditional marriage is threatened by these marriages.

Come on, people. Learn to listen better.

Darlene Thyen, Paynesville, Minn.

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Friday’s “opinion” written by Assistant Commentary Editor David Banks states that “most of the letters sent to have been in response to the US Senate’s defeat of measures to expand gun control.” It goes on to state that there was overwhelming sentiment showing disgust with the Senate’s inaction.

Could it be, like everything else lately, that the only time we take action is when we don’t like something? We got what we wanted. No gun-control legislation! No reason to write in to the editor.

It’s sad that the president cannot propose ideas based on facts rather than emotion. Did you ever see him talk about gun legislation without either Gabrielle Gifford or some parent from Sandy Hook? Of course not. If he did, he’d have to rely on people thinking rationally rather than emotionally.

Craig Anderson, Brainerd, Minn.

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Perhaps most disheartening in the whole ugly, distorted campaign to defeat gun legislation is belittling of Newton family members, labeling them as “props” in the debate. Notwithstanding that as American citizens they are exercising a constitutional right at least as sacred as the Second Amendment, I would submit that their perspective as victims of an unspeakable crime is at least as insightful as the paid NRA lobbyists who make sure their voice is heard.

Ed Murphy, Minneapolis

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Dust-cancer link still under investigation

We would like to point out that the April 13 article “Risk of rare cancer grows with years on taconite job” contains a quote that does not characterize the findings of our investigations. This quotation was apparently made by a scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. It states that the University of Minnesota’s Taconite Workers Health Study “confirmed what many have suspected for decades. There is a clear relationship between exposure to taconite dust and mesothelioma in miners.”

At this point in the investigation, the university’s research has revealed a relationship with time worked in this industry and risk for mesothelioma. The time association may or may not be related to dusts generated in the ore processing. Although we have assessed the role of one specific dust component in the ore processing, that component only accounts for one of several other types of dust to which workers could be exposed. And, the role that specific fraction plays, if any, has not been clarified.

As presented during a recent community meeting, this specific component and the rest of the dust components are the ongoing focus of our research. When that work is completed, we will provide additional context as to the role of dusts from taconite operations in the mesothelioma cases.

Dr. Jeffrey H. Mandel and John Finnegan


Mandel is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota and principal investigator for the Taconite Workers Health Study. Finnegan is professor and dean of the university’s School of Public Health.